There are plenty of misconceptions circulating around the concept of online reputation management. While some people believe that it’s all about social media monitoring, others think it’s all about public relations. While trying to unwrap all the nuances of reputation management online, the goal for any brand growth strategy should provide an organic opportunity to create new customer relationships, build a positive brand presence, be proactive when things go wrong, and comprehend how others really feel about your brand behind the curtain.
To put it simply, your online reputation is how people feel and connect with your brand on the internet with or without your knowledge. As most of us know, first impressions count for a lot and will go a long way in determining the overall sentiment, positive or negative, that people will develop for your company over time. By extension, online reputation management (ORM) is about influencing people’s opinion of your brand.
The whole idea behind online reputation management is to generate positive feelings and opinions about the brand, while also handling any bad comments and negative reviews that may surface. All of this is done with the purpose of building trust and, by extension, increasing sales. This ultimate guide will help you deal with your positive reputation management strategy.
Why Does Positive Online Reputation Matter?
With the online environment having such a huge influence on our lives, a brand’s online reputation will also translate to its offline reputation too. Statistics indicate that around 91% of consumers between 18 and 34 trust online reviews as much as they believe in personal recommendations. In addition, 86% of people read reviews when it comes to local businesses in their area. In addition, around 57% of consumers won’t deal with a business if it has fewer than a 4/5 star rating. At the same time, roughly 11% of consumers expect a perfect 5-star rating.
Statistics also show that businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers if they find one negative article while considering to buy a product. If two or three negative results show up on the top of the search engine results page, brands risk losing as many as 44 to 59% of customers. If the brand is big enough and if the story is too negative, it could be picked up by the local media, resulting in even more negative press and the community’s trust will plummet.
The good news, however, is that by being proactive in their online reputation management, companies can actually have an influence on what other people are saying about their brand and what type of information makes it to the tip of users’ Google search results. By encouraging happy customers to leave positive reviews, provide useful feedback, and by minimizing the effects of negative search results, reviews, and articles, brands will be in a far better position to get ahead of any negative press and keep their customers’ trust levels high.
The Different Types of Negative Content
When it comes to properly handling their online reputation, brands need to be aware of the different types of negative content that can affect them. One of the most common of these represents various complaints on social platforms. But unless the company has some serious problems and a general negative online reputation, they will address these complaints properly and will not encounter any significant issues.
What brands need to be particularly wary of are those types of negative content that can cause significant damage to the business. And unlike social media results, these can be prominent in search results pages, every time someone googles your brand’s name. Among these, we can include the following:
- Negative Reviews – Various review sites will allow users to express their opinion about your brand and/or products. Many conscious buyers will actively seek out these sites, trying to make an informed decision as possible. It’s, therefore, important that these reviews are predominantly positive.
- Hate Sites – Unlike some platforms such as the Pissed Consumer or the Ripoff Report, which are specifically dedicated to negative reviews, there are also the so-called “hate sites.” These sites go beyond simple negative reviews and are created by people who look to denigrate a company or a public figure. What’s worse, many of these sites will often provide false information and are particularly aimed at turning potential customers away.
- Negative Press – While there’s a common saying that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” it should be pointed out that it doesn’t really apply to brands and companies as it does to public figures.
Since your company’s online reputation matters a lot in today’s increasingly digital world, you will need to know how to properly manage and control the content that comes attached to your brand’s name. Below are some of the most important steps you need to do in order to ensure that your business reputation online is in tip-top shape.
Determine Your Existing Brand Reputation
Before you can start improving your reputation online, you will need to gauge how people are already feeling about your brand. The first step could be as simple as asking friends, family, business partners, and various other stakeholders for some honest feedback. You can also go ahead and google your brand name to see what pops up at the top of the search pages.
But in order to get a better sense of the overall online reputation is to use eclincher’s listening tool. It will tell you what people are talking about you on the internet, as well as allowing you to respond in real-time. Once you’ve got a general sense of what’s happening, it’s time to build and manage a strong online presence.
Own Your Brand
When you are building your online brand reputation, you are actually building a name for yourself. To do so digitally, it means that you need to make sure that you actually own your brand name. This step is critical if you want to be able to control your online reputation and protect your brand’s name across the many popular platforms. The last thing you will want to happen is for a potential customer to look up your brand online, only to come across some else’s social profile or website that shares the same name.
Secure Your Brand Name Domains
It’s very important that businesses own a domain name that corresponds to their brand. This is true even if your business doesn’t yet have a website – even though it should. You don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to establish a hate site on that domain and share false information about your brand. Aside from the common .com, there are also other top-level domains (TLDs) that you should consider getting.
These include .net, .org, .info, as well as any regional domains such as .us (USA) or .ca (Canada) that are relevant to your business. If you don’t acquire these domains early, you run the reputational risk of someone else getting them and even go as far as impersonating your brand on the internet. You can use a free tool such as KnowEm to search your brand name’s availability across 150 domains.
Secure Your Social Media
Just like with the domain names, you should establish a business profile for all the major social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Aside from their obvious digital marketing and online advertising purposes, having professional social media accounts on these platforms will ensure that nobody will impersonate you later.
At the very least, you should fill in your bio, add a relevant profile picture and cover page. It’s also a good idea to add all of your social profiles to your website. This way, search engines will know that those are the official social pages and can even increase the chances of owning your brand’s SERP.
That said, you don’t need to be active on all social networks if you don’t have the time or budget to do so. It’s far better to use the platforms that are the most relevant to your business but still maintain a business profile on the others.
Relevant Business Directories
Online business directories help people find companies, their websites, and their contact information. Google My Business, Yelp, or Bing Places are just some noteworthy such online business directories that people use. There are others that are more niched and you should consider listing your business on these as well. Just make sure the information (name, address, phone number) is accurate as these also play a major role in helping with the Google search results, particularly when people are doing local searches. Keep in mind that these directories also feature user comments and reviews, meaning that you will need to keep an eye on what people are saying.
How To Leverage Reviews
As mentioned above, online reviews play a major factor in most customers’ decision-making process. And while positive reviews can bring you plenty of business, one too many negative ones can significantly decrease your sales. It should go without saying that knowing how to leverage reviews is a major part of your online reputation management. That said, there are also several review platforms where you need to be proactive, as long as they are relevant to you. These include the following:
- Google My Business – As one of the most trusted sources for online reviews, Google My Business is a must for all brands looking to establish a proper online presence. It’s also an essential tool for local businesses as Google will use that data in its search results
- Facebook – As still the largest social media platform, Facebook is a common place where people leave comments and ratings about companies and their products.
- Yelp – Due to its strict review policies, Yelp is another top-rated customer review source. Businesses operating in a wide variety of industries are listed on Yelp.
- Tripadvisor – Aimed mostly towards tourists and travelers, Trip Advisor provides useful information about what places to visit, what activities to do, where to ear or book rooms, find flights, and more.
- Amazon – As the single largest eCommerce platform, Amazon encourages its buyers to leave ratings and comments on the products they purchase.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB) – This is a non-profit organization that helps people find trusted businesses. Aside from user ratings, the BBB also does its own evaluation of the businesses it hosts.
- Foursquare – This platform is very important when it comes to local businesses as it helps people with useful information on where to get a coffee, have something to eat, or go shopping in their area.
How To Get Positive Reviews
According to a Harvard Business School study, every one-star increase in Yelp ratings will lead to a revenue increase of anywhere between 5 to 9%. It’s, therefore, in your best interest to have your happy customers share their satisfaction with others. And while some will leave a positive review without any other action on your part, many others will need some form of encouragement to get there. Below are several steps you can take to generate more positive reviews from happy customers:
- Ask Them for Reviews – One of the most obvious avenues is to simply ask your customers to leave their feedback.
- Provide a Review Us Page – Create a dedicated page on your website where users can leave their reviews and comments. You can also link that page to your Google My Business review URL so those ratings will also appear there as well.
- Make it Easy – You should always look to simplify this process as much as possible. You can even go as far as creating an instruction sheet on how happy customers can rate and review your brand and product on your desired review site.
- Offer Reminders – Don’t forget to add a thank you note in the product box and/or an email reminder to your user to leave feedback.
- Use Personalization – Personalize your emails and other means of communication with your customers. Just by adding their name, they will feel much closer to you and will increase the chances of them doing what you ask.
- Provide Incentives – Some people don’t want to go the extra mile by having to review your business and will only do so if you provide them with a small token of appreciation such as a discount coupon, for example.
Another critical step is to respond to their comments, be it positive or negative. In doing so, they feel like you’re listening to their concerns and opinions. Most users will appreciate the fact that you take the time to listen to what they have to say. In many cases, this step will be enough to encourage them into reviewing your business.
You should also keep in mind that each review platform will have its own set of rules and regulations on how you can solicit and manage customer reviews. Make sure to read the Terms and Conditions page before asking customers for their positive feedback, otherwise, you may risk various penalties.
How To Handle Negative Reviews
One of the worst things you can do when faced with negative reviews is to ignore them. Not only will that indicate that you don’t care about your customers or their satisfaction but will also have a tremendous blow to your brand’s image. Below are several guidelines on pushing down negative comments and reviews coming your way:
- Actually Listen – Make sure to read their comments carefully and uncover the underlying problem. Empathize with how they are feeling and figure out how not to make the situation worse. Make sure to show them that their voice is heard and that their opinion matters.
- Provide Honesty – Always look to accept responsibility, acknowledge the situation, and apologize for their inconvenience – even if it’s not your fault. Look to solve the problem together.
- Don’t Make Up Excuses – Similar to the point above, don’t try to blame someone else, as this will often make you look more guilty.
- Don’t Take it Personally – Whenever addressing negative comments and reviews, keep calm, don’t take it personally, and don’t exacerbate the situation further.
- Be Personal – While you should be respectful and professional when engaging in a negative review, you should also explain the situation in an easy-to-understand way. Stay away from any technical jargon or intricate details.
- Learn, Adapt, Apply – Lastly, you should always learn from these reviews, fix the problems that caused them, in the first place, and make sure that it won’t happen again.
Be on Top of Your Social Media
Another piece of the online reputation management puzzle is to handle social media mentions. After all, social media is a great tool for building, managing, and maintaining your online reputation. Content marketing plays an important role here. You will need to start by engaging your audience with valuable content so as to create a solid social following.
Depending on the social platform you use, as well as what your target audience is interested in, you can:
- Write insightful blog posts
- Post product images
- Promote new products
- Show behind-the-scene and/or how-to videos
- Share company news
- Invite people to share user-generated content
- Ask questions to generate discussions and encourage people to leave their feedback
Social media is a great way of humanizing your business and that there are real people behind the brand. This will help you connect with your audience on a more personal level. By doing so, you will build stronger relationships. By opening your business to your customers and target audiences, you will show your users that you care about them and their interests. In addition, you will be in an excellent position to build a loyal community of followers and a split online reputation.
Social Mentions Monitoring
Always stay on top of what people are saying about your brand and products on social media. Google Alerts will help with your reputation monitoring by keeping track of any new posts and articles that are relevant to your brand. You can also track news websites and monitor your competitions’ mentions. You can also use the eclincher reputation management tool, which also allows you to respond to any of these mentions in real-time. In doing so, no negative comments or reviews will go unnoticed or unaddressed for a long time so as to do more damage.
With eclincher as your social media and online reputation management platform, you will be able to achieve your goals, grow your business, manage your public relations, and build a positive online image, in only a fraction of the time. Don’t hesitate to start your 14-day trial right now for free!